October 31, 2012

Sustainable Cultured Milk

Even though we produce our own milk, we rarely actually drink it. I've shown you the dairy products I make ("Ziggy Milk, Ziggy Butter, Ziggy Mozz"), but mostly we consume milk as yogurt. Nearly every day in fact. I know I've mentioned it frequently and have shown you my non-electric method of yogurt making, "Easy Peasy Homemade Yogurt", as well as how I make yogurt cheese. The only thing that bothers me about yogurt, is that I have to keep buying new starter. The good guy bacteria in the culture have a life span, and eventually the product changes as the culture ages. Every so often I have to buy some fresh yogurt to start again.

Another cultured milk product is kefir. I'd seen it as a fruit flavored drink in the dairy section at the grocery store. I never considered buying it, because most commercial products like this are too sweet and with too many nonessential synthetic ingredients. On top of that, commercial kefir is pasteurized, to kill anything alive in it, including the beneficial bacteria I'd be buying it for in the first place. Then I read that not only does kefir culture (called grains) not wear out, it actually perpetuates itself. If one takes proper care of it, that means never-ending cultured milk!

Because kefir grains multiply, it is easy to find them for sale, or for free from folks who just need to find a home for their ever increasing supply. Such was the case for me, and for the price of postage, I obtained my very own milk kefir from a gal on one of the goat lists I subscribe to.

Kefir grains

Making kefir is even easier than making yogurt. Just add one or two tablespoons of kefir grains to about 2 cups of milk. Cover to keep fruit flies out, and let sit on the counter for 24 - 48 hours. Sourness and thickness are controlled by the length of time it's allowed to sit. Then strain, put the newly made kefir into the fridge, get a clean jar, and start a new batch.

I was very curious as to it's taste. We eat our yogurt mostly on cereal in the morning, so this seemed a good substitute. But. It doesn't taste quite the same. Tangy from the beneficial bacteria, yes. But because it contains nutritional yeasts, it's a bit bubbly and has a different flavor.

Kefir after I've poured it into the strainer.

The only word I can think to describe it is effervescent.

I'm just starting my experiments but eventually should have lots to share about what I'm learning. Two books with directions for making it are Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. And of course there are tons of informational and how-to articles around the internet. The best I found are Dom's kefir webpages:

Its uses intrigue me, in particular cheese, not only soft yogurt type cheese, but harder cheeses as well. Also bread making and lacto-fermenting; all things I already do. According to Wikipedia, it can be used in making sourdough bread and is an ingredient in some recipes for borscht.

Right now I'm working with milk kefir grains, but there are other types. Water kefir is commonly used with juices and I can already see that I need some of these grains too.

I am looking forward to experimenting with this. There seem to be a lot of possibilities for it's use, not to mention the nutritional benefits. Plus, I'm happy to be able to culture my goat milk without needing to continually replace the culture. After I've experimented a bit, I'll let you all know what I figure out.

Sustainable Cultured Milk © October 2012 by 

October 28, 2012

In The Mood To Do Some Weaving

But alas, I can barely see my loom, let alone get to it.

Can you see it? Can you see my loom? It's huge (a
Glimakra 60" Standard 8-shaft countermarche),
 so it ought to be hard to miss. 

Such are the joys of major remodeling projects. What you see in the photo, is everything we moved out of the hallway and hall bathroom when we tore into that bathroom. All that plus a few boxes of kitchen knick-knacks, are currently stored in my studio. The bathroom project is scheduled for this winter.

For a better photo of my loom and studio, click here.

In The Mood To Do Some Weaving © October 2012 by 

October 25, 2012

Around The Homestead

All the little things since my last update.

Around the house...

Fall maintenance chores, specifically cleaning out the woodstove chimneys. We bought a chimney brush and extensions at Lowes.

Dan cleaning out the wood heatstove chimney

One of these days we'll finish putting up
& painting the alcove trim.

Probably because our stove has a catalytic combustor, the chimney really wasn't that bad.

Wood cookstove needed one more 12 inch section of chimney pipe.

The wood cookstove chimney is now 12 inches taller.

When we found our wood cookstove on craigslist, the selling price included everything: stove pipe, chimney pipe, caps, collars, etc. Because we have taller ceilings and a taller attic than the folks we bought it from, the pipe came up one foot short. To get a good draft, the chimney needs to be two feet above the peak of the roof. If it isn't, back puffing results, which is the problem we were having. This is where some of the smoke puffs back out into the room when the firebox door is opened. Happily I found the chimney section we needed locally. I'm very happy to have this problem fixed.

Kitchen Dining Nook. I mentioned that I hoped to have the dining nook completed by the time we had autumn's first fire in the cookstove. We didn't quite make it, but at least the table is done....

Having only one leg makes it very easy to clean under.

The chairs are not, because Dan had trouble with the paint sprayer. In the end, I stripped the chairs to repaint them by hand. The stripping is finished, so all I need is a nice day to do the painting. I still need to paint the baseboard too.

Back Porch. Before we got the chairs for the kitchen, one of the things we considered was a short bench. In fact, we found a whole corner booth dining set on craigslist. It turned out to be in terrible condition, having been left out in all kinds of weather. We got the whole 4-piece set for $20, but the bench proved not to be usable in the kitchen. Instead I painted it with a good outdoor paint and set it on the back porch.

My back porch

I love it! It fits perfectly next to the door and doesn't block Riley's kitty entrance. It's wonderful for putting on or taking off outside shoes, or just sitting there to enjoy a cup of coffee. I also hung a clock and thermometer on the wall above; both are very handy when working outside.

Around the barnyard....

Chicken Little...

Chicken Little at 3 months old

... has been growing some rather roosterish tail feathers. Oh well.

Lily, my newest Nubian, decided that Surprise is going to be her best friend whether Surprise likes it or not. Lily sticks to Surprise like glue, which Surprise wasn't too happy about at first. She butted Lily to deter her, but Lily did not give up.

Lily and Surprise

Her persistence is paying off.

And Ziggy?


Ziggy went into heat the other day. She was at the fence, flirting with...

Elvis, the Hunk

I put the nix on that. Because she's a miniature breed and he's a fast growing standard breed, I do not want to risk her having kids too big to deliver. So I put her in with Gruffy. Was she ever mad! She took about three running charges and rammed him with everything she had. He was so ecstatic he didn't care.

Gruffy my Pygmy buck.
A face only a mother could love?

Later I saw them lying together, chewing their cuds, as though they were the best of buds. But when it came time for milking, she couldn't get out of there fast enough. I'm hoping her hormones will help this romance out, but in the end, her preferences may be the difference between kids next spring, or no kids. Time will tell.

I reckon that's it for tidbits and updates. :)

Around The Homestead © October 2012 by 

October 22, 2012

Pasture Improvement Phase 2: Remineralizing Our Soil

At long last I can finally follow up on a post I wrote last March, "Pasture Improvement Phase 1". The goal has been to begin to improve the poor soil and forage in our fields, and establish a diversified, healthy browse area that will provide both pasture and hay.

In my "phase 1" post, I showed you how Dan scraped hundreds of sapling trees, blackberry vines, and poison ivy from that field. Later, I shared the results of two soil tests we had done. After that, it was simply a matter of finding the recommended soil amendments, tilling them in, and planting. Or so I hoped.

If I had wanted chemical fertilizers, I could have bought them easily at any local garden center. But I was looking for bulk dolomite, rock phosphate, sul-po-mag, manganese sulfate, cobalt sulfate, and boron, needing enough to treat half an acre. My problem was that none of this was available locally.

Just last week I was finally able to get the last of everything we needed. I eventually found dolomite in 40# bags at Lowes. My local feed store was able to order 28# bags of rock phosphate for me. Due to cost however, I was only able to get the minimum recommendation, which is about half the phosphorous our soil really needs. Everything else I had to order from out of state. The hardest one to track down was the cobalt sulfate. Even though I only needed 2.5 ounces, it is important for my goats. They need cobalt to synthesize vitamin B12.  I finally was able to order it from a pottery and ceramics supply house, because it is used for blue glazes.

On Dan's next day off, we measured everything according to the soil report recommendations...

... mixed ....

.... and broadcast the mixture over the field. These minerals will not only improve soil and plant health, but hopefully our goats's health as well. It is so much better for them to get their minerals from forage, rather than from packaged mineral supplements or mineral blocks.

The next day our neighbor came to till it in.

Hard to see in the sun and shadows, but that's him, toward the upper left

Tilling was important because some of the amendments are water soluble. If they hadn't been worked into the soil, the first heavy rain would have washed them all down the hill.

After that, we planted: pasture grasses, legumes, herbs, even root crops to feed the goats and improve the soil. For winter forage, I planted wheat, oats, annual rye, and Austrian winter peas. Because it's feasible in our climate, a winter pasture is a must in my thinking. Goats crave fresh forage in the winter. Another plus is that we'll need less stored hay.

Until the pasture is well established, we have to keep out the chickens and goats. The chickens especially, would love to eat all my seed.

Routing the chickens to another area with a bit of rabbit fence.

For the chickens, a short length of rabbit fence was run between the chicken gate and the gate to the front pasture. For the goats, something sturdier is a must.

What are they looking at? Riley, who is always an object
of great interest. Who is Riley? Click here to find out.

Dan ran a few t-posts into the ground and wired cattle panels to it. This corridor gives the girls access to the old corn and cowpea field from the goat shed.

This is a huge project checked off the to-do list. One that is a vital step toward feeding our animals from our land. We will tackle the other pasture areas, one at a time, with the same goal in mind. For now, I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief that this one is done. The only thing left to do is pray for gentle rains and watch it grow.

© October 2012 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

October 19, 2012

Yikes! There's A Chipmunk in the House! Or, Smart Cat?

The other day I was in the pantry filling the water pitcher from our Berkey filter. The kitchen door was open to the back porch / summer kitchen / laundry room, because the weather was warm and pleasant. As I stood there waiting for the pitcher to fill, I heard the kitty door.

"Riley, is that you?" I said. (Not that it would be anyone else.)

Next I heard crashing and banging. That alarmed me but the pitcher wasn't full yet so I couldn't go see what it was. I heard it again. Suddenly a chipmunk came high tailing it around the wood cookstove toward the pantry, and me. Riley was right on its tail.

I screamed, the chipmunk freaked, but Riley never missed a beat. After a flurried turn or two around the kitchen, the chipmunk made a dive for the bathroom with Riley right behind. I quickly closed the door, relieved that I wouldn't have to chase and catch a chipmunk in the house.

I had to leave the kitchen after that, because I couldn't listen to the life and death game being played in the bathroom. You may or may not agree, but Dan and I have a strict policy of non-interference when it comes to cats and their business. This is Riley's job after all, and on a farm or working homestead, rodents will overpopulate and overrun. Without a cat they'll do quite a bit of damage and as well as attract snakes, because snakes love to eat small rodents too. Some folks may prefer snakes to cats, but I can't imagine a snake doing double duty as a lap warmer.

But back to the situation at hand. Now, I'm not one to assign human thinking to animals. Animals can reason in their own species fashion, and some can be pretty smart about it. I think Riley's that way, I think Riley is a smart cat. Just a day or two prior, I saw him with a chipmunk he'd caught in the driveway. He was playing "cat and mouse," where he pretends his attention is elsewhere, until his "mouse" makes a run for it. (It seems a cruel game, I know, but that's what cats do.) Unfortunately that particular munk made a run for it and ran right up a tree. Call me crazy, but I think this time he brought his munk into the house so it couldn't get away!

This story does have a happy ending. Once Riley finally asked to come out of the bathroom, I assumed the chipmunk was dead. It certainly looked dead. When Dan went to pick it up however, it was very much alive! A bit stunned, but alive. He set it by one of our numerous chipmunk holes and it disappeared down the hole in a wink.

Now when Riley rings the kitty door bell to come into the house, we take a peek out the kitchen door window. We tell him he's only allowed to come in if he's alone. New rule, though it remains to be seen whether or not he'll honor it.

© October 2012 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

October 16, 2012

Cowpea Sheller

Several of you were interested in the Mr. Pea sheller I mentioned in my "Pea Pickin'" post. I promised to let you know how well it works, so here it is. I got it to shell my Ozark Razorback cowpeas (also called Southern peas). They are a small cowpea that I hope will be a good source of protein for my goats and chickens.

l have to say it is heavier duty than I expected and that I was pleased with the gauge of the metal. So many products are getting flimsier and flimsier, and it almost isn't worth buying anything new anymore. Mr. Pea Sheller however, will serve me well I think. As you can see, it can be attached to any table or flat surface.

The rollers are plastic, as is the handle.

The ad said to be sure to use fresh, fully ripe (English) peas, but I read somewhere that it could be used for dried beans as well. I used crispy dry cowpea pods and they shelled easily.

Once the pods are caught between the rollers, I could continue to feed in more pods.The peas spit out on the same side that the pods are fed into. The empty pods fall out the back.

Mr. Pea Sheller can also be used with a small, handheld mixer. In fact, I used that as an excuse to buy one, thinking I could use it for that, and for whipping cream and making meringues. These are the only two reasons I still miss my Kitchen Aid mixer. Everything else I've gotten used to doing by hand.  Unfortunately the little hand mixer I got didn't fit the Mr. Pea! That was a tad disappointing because I was wondering how much time I could save by using it, although I also imagined cowpeas flying every which-a-way from the mixer's speed.

Turning the crank by hand is somewhat slow, but it is definitely quicker than shelling them by hand. I think it took me an hour and a half to shell a little over four pounds of cowpeas. I harvested close to 2, 33 gallon trash cans full of pods, so this made only a small dent in that. I'll be curious as to how long they last.

My intention for growing the cowpeas was primarily for feeding our chickens and goats. I finally got the goats to eat the whole pods, which will make feeding them easier and give them more roughage. The chickens so far, have ignored the whole pods, but gobble down the shelled peas. I also cooked some up for Dan and me. They were good, tasting similar to black-eyed peas.

Next year I'm going to try planting these with the corn. (To see my corn sheller, click here). I'll plant earlier too, so I can harvest more. They are quite prolific and will produce until frost kills them. And no matter what, I'm just pleased to be growing even a small part of our own feed.

October 13, 2012

Of Goats & The Best Laid Plans

"The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry."

Robert Burns
To A Mouse

Our own best laid plans had to do with goats. Kinder goats that is. Lovely mid-sized dual purpose goats of Nubian and Pygmy Dwarf genetics, inheriting the best of both. The plan was to take a couple of registered Pygmy bucks, breed them with a couple of registered Nubian does, and go into the Kinder goat business. Unfortunately, the goats didn't cooperate.

I do feel like I gave it (and the goats) a fair chance; almost two full breeding seasons. Losing first one of the Pygmy bucks and then one of the Nubian does were setbacks. Neither doe settling last year (getting pregnant in goat folk talk), was another. But I am very willing to commit myself to a project and not give up when obstacles present themselves. Still, there can come a time when it's necessary to decide whether or not the goal remains viable. Do we persevere no matter the cost? Or do we re-evaluate and modify the goal to meet our needs?

So far this year Surprise has gone through three heat cycles with Gruffy, but without any sign of settling. I don't know why it wasn't happening, but I could not justify letting her go another year without kids. So I decided it was time to change the goal. Now it's official. I've given up on trying to breed Kinder goats. No, no, no, it's not as dire as it sounds. I do not need sympathies, condolences, nor words of encouragement to not give up. Actually, it's a relief.

Onward. The first thing I did was sell all my Nigerian Dwarfs except Ziggy. To be honest, it was very difficult for me to milk Edy and Nessie, their udders were so small. Ziggy, on the other hand, I can manage.

The replacements are, in the buck department...

Our new Kiko buckling, Elvis. Gruffy is in the background.

This (don't laugh, I didn't name him) is Elvis. He's a 10 month old purebred Kiko buckling. The Kiko is a standard size meat breed of goat which recently caught Dan's eye. My thinking is that if the Kinder is a cross between a meat breed (Pygmy) and a diary breed (Nubian), why couldn't I do the same thing with the Kiko? Just an idea.

Elvis in the buck barn, getting a drink
Elvis has quite the "do"

Elvis was named by his breeders because of his "pompadour." He was pretty skinny when we first got him, but he has been gaining a bit of weight since he's been here and I think, looks healthier.

Surprise went into heat again, shortly after we got him. She decided pretty quickly that she liked him (unlike Gruffy, about whom she continually complained.) She was very cooperative, so I'm hopeful.

To replace Edy and Nessie, I bought Lily....

Lily, my new Nubian doeling. 

Something about the markings on her face give her a worried look.

This little girl is a 7 month old purebred Nubian. She's too young to be bred, which works well with my plan for breeding only half my does every year and milking through their off years. I think it's the best way to have milk year around. Next year I'll breed her to Elvis.

Dan and I did discuss going out of state to buy Kinders, though it would mean traveling at least two states away to do so. In the end, that seemed like we were going too far to achieve a goal which was really nominal in the grand scheme of things. I also realized that to develop a quality line of Kinders would require time, work, hard choices, and money. Not that it isn't a noble goal, but I did not want it to overshadow our primary goal of working toward a self-reliant homestead. This way I don't have to worry about conforming to a breed standard, genetic lines, record keeping, registration, tattooing, etc. I can just take good care of my goats and enjoy them.

I'm really happy with my new goats and satisfied with my goat situation in general. I'm excited about possibly creating our very own dual purpose breed; I think I'll call them Kikobians. ;) Here's hoping this goal has better success.

October 10, 2012

Cheese #11, The Recipe

This blog post is for those of you who were interested in how I made Cheese #11, my first repeatable cheese. For those of you who didn't read that post, that means that from last summer's beginning cheese making efforts, number 11 was the first one I want to try to make again. I've taken plenty of pictures, will give you the original recipe, as well as my variations. The recipe is based on the hard cheese instructions from The Little House Cookbook, by Barbara M. Walker.

Ingredients for Cheese #11

Ingredients for the cheese:
  • 1.5 gallons (6 quarts) of raw, whole, goats milk
  • 2 cups whey. This was from a previous batch of mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp. whole milk yogurt (homemade from goat milk)
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid rennet dissolved in 1/4 C. *water
  • salt (I used 1.5 teaspoons, which is a scant amount I think)
[NOTE: Ultrapasteurized milk does not work for making cheese. The protein molecules have been altered and are about useless for anything other than extended shelf life. If using boughten milk, you either need raw or regular (not ultra) pasteurized.]

Ingredients for the brine: (prepared ahead of time. Can be reused.)
  • 1/2 gallon whey
  • 1/2 gallon *water
  • 1 pound salt
*We have city water so I filter ours for drinking and cooking. Rennet in particular, does not work well with chlorinated water. If needs must, tap water can be allowed to sit for 24 hours, to evaporate the chlorine.

1. Ripen the milk. Mix yogurt with whey and blend thoroughly in milk. Heat slowly, over about half an hour, until it is wrist temperature (88 - 90° / 31 - 32° C).

A skimmer like this one is my favorite cheese making tool. I pour the rennet
through the holes, which helps disperse it thoroughly and quickly.

The object here is to lower the pH of the milk, i.e. acidify it a bit. I'm using whey and yogurt as my culture, but buttermilk could be used too. Technical cheese makers use thermophilic, mesophilic, chevre, feta, etc., cheese cultures. They might also use a pH testing kit or pH meter.

2. Set the milk. Mix the rennet solution and add to the milk. Stir for 2 minutes, to make sure it is well mixed. Remove spoon and allow to set, about 30 minutes. When the milk is set, you will get a "clean break" in the curds when you insert a knife.

"Clean break" is when a clean cut can be made in the curds with a knife.

3. Cut the curd. I use a long knife to cut the curd. It's supposed to be cut into one inch cubes. Ha.

The curd is cut at an angle like this, to hopefully get 1 inch cubes of curd

4. Heat the curd slowly (over 30 minutes) to 105° F / 40° C. It will be hot on the wrist. This is sometimes referred to as "cooking" the curd.

The curd tends to clump & stick together during
heating, so it must be stirred gently but continually.

Allow to sit for about an hour, or until the curds are "squeaky" when chewed. This is the step I forgot when I made cheese #11, so I skipped it this time around too.

5. Drain the whey with a colander lined with cheesecloth. There will be a lot of it.

Whey leftover from making the cheese.  See below for what I do with it.

The two half-gallon jars on the left are filled with whey first drained from the curds. The jar on the right is whiter; it includes about a cup of whey squeezed out by the press. (Looks like it contains some of the cream as well. The cream will rise to the top of this jar, and I will skim that and save for making butter.)

6. Salt the curds. Just mix in the salt with your hands.

Mixing in the salt. The cheese will resemble cottage cheese at this point.

7. Mold & Press the cheese. I do not have a cheese press proper. What I do have is a tincture press (originally a wine press) that I thought I could adapt with a cheese mold and follower from a cheese making company. After experimenting, I would not recommend it, and I have added a real cheese press to my wish list.

Tincture press, cheesecloth, cheese mold & follower

Line the mold with cheesecloth. The cheap kind from the discount or fabric store does not work. It's too flimsy and open. Real cheese makers cheese cloth (aka butter muslin) works much better, and lasts longer. It can be washed, bleached, and re-used.

Because it's a tincture press, it has a spout for draining the tincture.
To get the remaining whey to drain, I have to tip the press like this.

Pressure should be fairly light for the first time. If not, the soft cheese is squished through the cheesecloth, making it difficult to remove and keep clean. The cheese is removed from the press and cheesecloth every half hour or so to turn. This helps to keep the cheesecloth from sticking to the cheese. Pressure can be increased after each turn. Technical cheese makers sometimes use a pressure regulator.

Once out of the press I weigh it for my records.

I weigh each cheese fresh out of the press.
I will weigh again after it has developed it's rind.

This cheese looks pretty uniform. Often they are lopsided because of my rigged cheese press. You can see it weighs 2 pounds, 2.2 ounces out of the press. The original Cheese #11 weighed 1 pound 14 ounces, though I'm not sure why the difference. Last year I used Nubian milk, this year it's Nigerian Dwarf milk. Could breed make that big a difference???

Dress the Cheese. At this point, the Little House Cookbook instructs to dress the cheese by trimming, dipping in hot water, and smoothing with a knife. Since I didn't include this in my notes, I didn't think to do it. Smoothing the cheese does make it easier to dry and wax however.

8. Brine the Cheese. This step is not in the cookbook, but is a common technique. I used the brine solution I've been using for my mozzarella. It can be saved and reused quite a few times.

Freshly pressed cheese in the brine to salt it.

The brine should heated to about room temperature before adding the cheese. It's left in the brine for about 2 hours, turned every half hour. Then its' removed, dried, and left to form a rind.

9. Let the rind form. This is the step I'm at now. It's cool enough now that I shouldn't have a lot of problems with it getting moldy. Any mold that does begin to develop on the cheese, can be rubbed off with a clean rag dipped in vinegar and salt. I have to cover mine with an old cotton dishcloth, to protect from fruit flies.

The green cheese is wrapped & allowed to air dry to form a rind 

Out of the press, the cheese seemed tall, but it will settle down a bit as the surface dries. Last year it took about a week for the rind to develop. Once the entire surface is dry, I will weigh it a second time for my records. Then it will be waxed and stored in the warmest part of my fridge. The instructions call for letting it cure for at least 8 weeks before eating. The longer it's stored, the sharper the cheese will be. Cheese #11 was a year old by the time we cut into it, so it was fairly sharp. We'll cut into this one as soon as my other cheeses have been eaten.

What do I do with all that whey? Some of you may be wondering about all that whey! Whey retains about a third of the calcium and protein of the milk, so it's too valuable not to keep and use.
  • Obviously it can be used as a starter culture to make more cheese. :)
  • Make ricotta cheese. I make this if I have time. Add about a quarter cup cider vinegar and heat to 200° F / 93° C. Ricotta doesn't keep well, so unless I have plans for it (lasagna or cheesecake) I don't always make it.
  • Since reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I have been soaking grains and whole grain flours overnight with a bit of whey, to neutralize the phytic acid. This increases digestibility and availability of grain nutrients, so whey is something I cannot be without.
  • Use in place of water or milk in any recipe that calls for it: bread, pancakes, gravies, as a soup base, etc.
  • Replace part of the water when reconstituting juice
  • Use to make lemonade
  • Use in lacto-fermenting. Another idea from Sally Fallon. We've found we prefer the taste of sauerkraut, sauerruben, pickles, etc if the brine contains a bit of whey.
  • Sourdough starter, when making a fresh batch
  • Homemade soda pop, i.e. lacto-fermented herb teas and juices, made with whey
  • Homemade mayonnaise. I recently found directions for lacto-fermented mayonnaise at Sarah's Musings. The addition of whey increases the shelf life (in the fridge of course).
  • Feed to cats, dogs, chickens, pigs, etc. They love it! 
  • Water plants like liquid fertilizer
  • I've also read of experiments using whey as a spray for plant diseases. This is something I would like to experiment with myself.

If you have any questions, ask away. I'm still very much a beginner at cheese making, so I may or may know be able to answer them.

I will continue with this recipe for awhile, experimenting with longer curd cooking, and perhaps the cheddaring technique. I may even try some natural additives for a yellow color! If you give this recipe a try, do let me know what you think.

Cheese #11, The Recipe photos & text ©
October 2012 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/

October 7, 2012

Goat Buster

Our chicken yard has a chicken gate.

The chicken gate.  Opens to goat field
I can open the gate to let the chickens out to free range.

Chicken gate open
Not to be left behind...
I can close it to keep them in the yard and at night to deter predators.

Chicken gate closed
The problem with this gate, is that it is irresistible to kids.

Seems that every kid finds his way through the chicken gate
This is CryBaby's kid, April 2011

Do chickens wanna play?

And not only kids, but miniature goats.

Edy, one of my Nigerian Dwarf does in the chicken yard

If I fuss at her, she gives me her best "Who me?" look.

Maybe I shouldn't fret over this, but for some reason I do. For some reason I don't want goats in the chicken yard.

A steady blast from the hose works wonders at chasing them out. Problem is, I don't always have the hose available and at the ready.

Enter, the goat buster.....

My goat buster

I found this baby on the clearance shelves at walmart: pump action, 30 ounce capacity with blasting power up to 40 feet, and for only $3! How could I go wrong?

Now all I need is for a volunteer to enter the chicken yard....

Lock & load, I'm ready.

Photos & text of Goat Buster © October 2012 

October 4, 2012

Kitchen Remodel: The Last Project

We've been down to the last project on the kitchen remodel all summer: finishing off the breakfast nook. Being summer though, we don't work much on the inside of the house. Still, there have been a few odd moments when we've made a little progress, like the dish rack. One thing needing to be done was the baseboard and a little trimwork.

Installing baseboard moulding with nail gun
Dan installs the baseboard, I'll paint it.

The other thing is the table and chairs. We took awhile deciding on seating. Originally we thought a bench for the wall side, and a chair opposite. That didn't work out, but I did find two acceptable chairs at a local Habitat For Humanity Restore. They are sturdy and at $10 each, how could we go wrong. All that was needed was sanding and painting.

Using a paint sprayer to paint the kitchen chairs
I'm matching them to the back door, because we have so much paint left over.

The table needs to be done too. This will be a small built in, something simple.

built-in kitchen nook table, materials, tools, & cat assembled
We got all the pieces at the big box home improvement store. Except the cat

kitchen dining nook table, checking for level
It's small but just big enough for breakfast. Dan will stain it next

The goal is to have everything finished by the time it gets chilly enough to fire up the wood cookstove. After that, I can declare the kitchen officially done! Expect lots of photos to celebrate. :)